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The Pull List
(Click title to go directly to the review)

Advance Review: NO TOMORROW #1
Indie Jones presents HENCHMEN #1
Advance Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE #23
Advance Review: X-MEN: BATTLE OF THE ATOM #1

Advance Review: In stores today!


Writer: Raven Gregory
Art: JG Miranda
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

We all cope with loss differently. Sure the Kübler-Ross model maps out seven stages of grief, but we all go through those stages in a different order, in different ways, and for different amounts of time. While some retreat, others fight back and still others decide to make something of the grief and turn it into something productive, creative and positive. This is what my friend Raven Gregory did when faced with a loss and the result is his new series NO TOMORROW.

Now, I write this review knowing full well that it comes from an opinion that has somewhat of a bias. I’ve worked with Raven for the last few years as he served as supervisor/editor/sounding board for my ideas in regards to my two JUNGLE BOOK miniseries. But if not for the strong sense in storytelling I first saw in Raven’s haunting series THE GIFT and later in his twisted take on C.S. Lewis’ characters in his WONDERLAND TRILOGY, I would have never met the man. With NO TOMORROW, Raven takes on a new horror…death itself.

This isn’t the first time Death has taken the form of a sexy woman. There’s been Brian Pullido’s LADY DEATH over at Avatar and Marvel’s got Thor’s sultry death goddess Hel and even Thanos’ main squeeze may be bony, but she’s got a bitchin’ bod under that purple robe. So while some might once again give the tired argument that Zenescope’s version of Death in NO TOMORROW is another sexy babe in their overflowing stable of sexy babe stars, this is definitely not one that hasn’t been feminized before.

The story itself is sort of a smaller story than what we’ve seen from Raven lately who has done some universe spanning crossovers with his UNLEASHED books. NO TOMORROW is more intimate and thoughtful, following one man who seems to have escaped death, only to have it continue to follow him attempting to take him anyway. At least that’s what I’ve gleaned from the first issue, which takes some time letting me get to know and like the lead character and the life around him before it’s almost swept away. It was fun seeing this guy avoid his final curtain call while seeing death in the form of a beautiful woman flitting and teasing in the periphery. The story feels like a very conscious dissection of the notion that, at any time, our lights could be snuffed out, and while we try so hard to make sense and assure ourselves we have some sense of control, ultimately, our mortality is out of our hands.

Raven’s story is well rendered by JG Miranda who does a solid job of storytelling in a straightforward and no frills manner. The story is easy to follow and not flashy, leaving the flair to happen in the story itself.

My friend Raven lost someone very close to him and he decided to make a story about it with NO TOMORROW. He goes into detail about it all in the Afterword and knowing Raven, those last few pages were very hard for me to read and not feel both moved by his loss and inspired by his decision to use storytelling as an outlet to cope, understand and heal. NO TOMORROW is an intriguing first chapter in a touching tribute to those we have lost and the rest of us left behind trying to find some way to make sense of it all.

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 3. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in 2013 as a 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment & GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81. Look for GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES available in February-July 2013 and the new UNLEASHED crossover miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS WEREWOLVES: THE HUNGER #1-3 available in May-July 2013! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.


Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jim Lee
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: The Kid Marvel

Before I even begin my review of SUPERMAN UNCHAINED, I want to make it known that I am usually not a fan of the character Superman. I feel like the idea of the “big blue boy scout” is the remnants of early comic and American ideology that is basic, boring, and with little artistic substance. I feel like Superman is a character, much like Captain America, who lacks depth and is stuck in a philosophically dull era of writing, with stories that never scratch the surface of deep moral dilemma or philosophical story-based inquiry. I believe, however, that Superman if written correctly and given a little more realism could have much more interesting stories with real world value. I mean, the guy has almost infinite god-like powers, the last of an intelligent species similar to humans, and he chose the superhero life. All of this bottled into a god among humans could create great storytelling and very interesting ones. I mean, Clark didn’t have the superhero thing forced onto him or need a traumatic experience to create it. He chose to become a hero because it was the right thing to do. I actually gained a whole new perspective on the character after watching an interview by Max Landis called “Regarding Clark” (Landis also thinks character should push story, not the other way around, which I also hugely advocate), which I admit washed away a lot of bias, creating an even more intense desire for deeper Superman-related stories. I know the character has the potential, but his writers for the most part just don’t adapt. With all that nonsense said, I checked out SUPERMAN UNCHAINED from the start because I like Scott Snyder as a writer and because of that Max Landis interview. So I have to say, I’m actually impressed with the series so far and I find it enjoyable, to my surprise.

In SUPERMAN UNCHAINED 3 Snyder revealed a little bit more about the other super-alien, Wraith, who while looking like a giant unintelligible monster turns out to be very level-headed and well-spoken. General Lane continues to poke the bear that is Superman before Wraith has to show Clark who’s top dog, knocking him across Utah. Once the two supergiants are finally alone, Wraith finally calms down Superman. Without General Lane’s constant verbal jabs and frustrating sonic beam to continually annoy Superman, the two return to the military base where Wraith’s origins are revealed, explaining he arrived on Earth in a spaceship in 1939 (the same year as Supes’ original debut). Snyder at this point even teases that Wraith’s arrival may have been intentional, which could develop into something interesting. During the explanation of Wraith’s time on Earth and various military involvements under the U.S. government, the terrorist group Ascension begins attacking Japan with drones, so Superman and Wraith go from mistakenly fighting one another to fighting side by side, during which Wraith gives Superman an ominous warning. In the side plots of SUPERMAN UNCHAINED, Lex Luthor gives Jimmy Olsen a surprise visit while Lois Lane’s falling plane is mysteriously saved; both side stories, I’m assuming, will eventually tie into a larger one later down the road.

I’ve been overall impressed with SUPERMAN UNCHAINED so far. I like seeing a new character that Superman can’t automatically overpower. This is assuming that Batman’s warning and General Lane’s constant praises of Wraith’s strength over Superman hold up when they eventually duke it out. The Ascension aspect also seems to be picking up with the attack on Japan, which I’m hoping will have a bigger part than just a way to bring Wraith and Superman together. As for Lex and Lois, I’m not as interested in them. I like what Scott Snyder’s been doing with the writing of Superman. He’s shown Superman thinking out strategy, getting frustrated, and being more believable and less perfect than I’m used to for the character. Not to say he’s reinvented Superman or created this brand new fresh story, but he’s writing him in a more enjoyable and entertaining way than I’m used to.

For the SUPERMAN UNCHAINED art, I noticed over the interwebs that some weren’t very fond of the fiery electricity or energy floating around Wraith. I actually really liked the idea, because it reminded me of Dragon Ball Z. A superpowered entity being so strong that they literately emit energy of some sort was something I could dig. As for Wraith’s character details themselves, I did think he should have had a little more character design, because it’s kind of plain and artistically lacking. Other than that, I like the way the book is being colored and the rest of the character artwork. The art as a whole definitely adds to SUPERMAN UNCHAINED.

I have almost no complaints about SUPERMAN UNCHAINED thus far, which is big coming from someone who dislikes Superman 90% of the time. I’ve been a fan of Snyder’s Batman for awhile and he’s able to carry that same writing ability over with SUPERMAN UNCHAINED. It’s a very entertaining, interesting, and enjoyable read. It is obviously early in the series with only three issues so far; however, I have high hopes for SUPERMAN UNCHAINED’s future.


Writer: Jamison Raymond
Artist: Ryan Howe
Publisher: Robot Paper
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

HENCHMEN warms the cockles of my iced-over comic heart for a few reasons: it’s indie done on the same quality level as anything corporate, it has an original premise bringing comic backgrounds to the main view of focus, and finally it’s a Kickstarter that got fully funded and is delivering on all of its promises. Individually these elements don’t mean much; collectively they are a huge boon for a medium that needs more out of the box storytelling and business paradigms.

As the name implies, this story is about henchmen, those faceless back-up singers who dress in something akin to the main star of the nefarious show and always end up as cannon fodder for hero roid rage. One always wonders, though ( or at least I always have), who are these men who stand watch, take bullets as the first to storm Normandy or are simply hero-bait while the boss gets away with literal murder? AUSTIN POWERS and a ton of others have played with this concept, but each time it was a “just the tip” experience. Actually, if memory serves, when Dr. Evil’s henchman was steamrolled the visit from HR to give his spouse and kids his benefits was relegated to extra footage on the Director Cut VHS (fuck, I am so old).

So, I find it refreshing and, frankly, ambitious to try to build an ongoing continuity based off these usually faceless and nameless forgotten heroes of crime.

Meet Gary. He’s not a bad guy. He’s actually a stark representation of all us fangeezers who are slowly approaching forty or have crossed the hump. He’s slightly paunchy, a little sarcastic, and just lost his job and his wife. His daughter just got braces and he’s now staring down the barrel of obsolescence with bills mounting and another forty years of life left on mother Gaia. The thing about Gary is that he’s not even looking to join the ranks of the unwashed; he ends up henching simply because he replied to a newspaper ad making an offer too good to refuse. In this economy we’ve all seen these jobs, and as those of us who have applied know all too well, an offer too good to be true usually is.

Enter the Head Pin of Crime, a deranged man suited up with all sorts of wonderful toys that aid in his dirty deeds done dirt cheap. So cheap, in fact, that Gary and his inductees don’t get an ounce of armor between them--merely papier-mâché representations of bowling pins so his boss can stay on theme. We don’t learn a lot about the Head Pin, because frankly this isn’t his story. He’s captured in short order by his nemesis, Striker. Fortunately Gary is quick on his feet, so he and the 7 & 10 spin split for a speedy exit before the cavalry arrives.

What happens next had me worried until the last page. Gary, like most heroes, is looked to for leadership from his fellow pins that didn’t fall. I was extremely concerned this book would become less about a henchman and more a man destined for the top seat. Raymond deftly sidesteps the expected, though, by actually having Gary become a union leader for henchmen. As this industry, like all others, looks to automate, Gary is now set to become a voice for the little worker against the corporate structure of automaton robotic henchmen.

End scene.

This is a great first outing, filled with the enough character development and general originality that lets it transcend beyond just a deconstruction of the super hero mythos. Howe’s artwork remains on theme with the parody without forgetting the other elements I just mentioned. Also, when Gary buys his daughter a puppy with his first round of ill-gotten gains, they chose a golden retriever, a breed very near and dear to my heart.

If you want a break from the norm, try slumming it with the HENCHMEN for awhile--you won’t be disappointed.

Optimous Douche has successfully blackmailed BottleImp to draw purty pictures for his graphic novel AVERAGE JOE coming out in 2013 from COM.X. When not on Ain’t It Cool, Optimous can be found talking comics and marketing on and just marketing on


Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Paco Medina
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Masked Man

Now that mighty Jeph Loeb has been gone for two issues, after relaunching Nova with (the boob from the ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN cartoon) Sam Alexander, things have been shaping up well.<br.
First thing I want to do is throw some praise towards artist Paco Medina (and to inker Juan Vlasco and colorist David Curiel). Since Ed McGuinness stepped down with Loeb, I was expecting the art to take a hit, but Medina and company have been doing a great job. Everything is bright, fun, colorful and clean, as a superhero adventure should be. Medina does borrow heavily from Olivier Coipel, but I can't argue with the results--it's a good-looking book (heck, it works for Stuart Immonen). I did think Spider(Ock)man's costume was a little weird with the finger hooks and thick eye-glasses eyes (does he look like this in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN?). Just unnecessary and clunky, in my opinion. But Nova himself looks great, as does Joss Whedon (check out pages 15 and 16 to see what I mean).

Storywise—well, to be honest there's not much story in this issue. It's more of a character study of Sam and an amusing run-in with Spider(Ock)man, which I would say is the high point of the issue. As Nova himself said “Wow. Spider-Man's kind of a !)@#$.” As for Sam himself, he's a bit of a double-edged blade. On one hand, the cocky loser kid is quite amusing. On the other hand, it can get really annoying if not handled right. So far Wells is doing a decent job of it. I cringe from time to time, but for the most part I dig it. Kind of reminds me of how Erik Larsen handled Richard Rider back on his NOVA run: one part loser, one part goofball, one part guy just trying to do right--Larsen did a great job with it. But I get what Wells is ultimately trying to do here (as is evident in this issue), which is to have Sam do the heroe’s journey thing, from jerk kid to superhero man. So while he's trying to play the jerk part for laughs, he still might turn into just an annoying jerk like in the cartoon if Wells doesn't keep him balanced.

Side note on the cartoon: it's funny how back when BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES came out they changed the industry by rewriting characters like Mr. Freeze, making him ten times more mature than he ever was in the comics. Now with Disney in charge of Marvel's cartoons (and to think I once thought this was going to be a good thing), things have gone back to the way they were: cartoons are more immature than the comics and for kids only (just like all their ridiculous sitcoms). It's really scary to think what will happen if Disney starts turning Marvel movies into the same low-bar entertainment.

Now back to NOVA: Wells' first two issues are easily on par with Loeb's first two issues, before things got overly glib and cliché. So if Loeb ultimately chased you off, you should try dipping your big toe back into the pool again. Next issue is an INFINITY crossover with Thanos showing up, and I'm down with that (it doesn't have to be a bad thing), Though I hope Nova doesn't have some lame throwdown with Thanos. Saying 15 year old Nova is in the same league as Thanos is just wrong--and something I'd expect from a bad Loeb story! I have yet to be totally won over, but Wells and Medina have pulled Nova out of its nose dive; here's hoping they can keep it up.

Learn more about the Masked Man and feel free check out his comic book CINDY LI: THREE OF A KIND and CAPTAIN ROCKET at


Writer: Andrez Bergen
Publisher: Perfect Edge Books
Find out more about this book here and on Facebook here!
Reviewer: Henry Higgins is My Homeboy

Where are my brightly coloured pictures?

I'm afraid this review will sound more critical than I mean it to, because ultimately, I like this book. I like it a lot. It’s creative in a way few novels in the last few years have been, with a strong sense of itself and the world it creates. And, while it can be slow at times, Andrez Bergen’s novel “Who’s Killing The Great Capes Of Heropa” is an inventive and intriguing book.

Explaining too much of the plot would be remiss, but the novel begins with the death of the heroic Aerialist by what seems to be sabotage. The book then jumps to Southern Cross, the genre-savvy newcomer and replacement on the local superhero team. The plot is, for lack of a better word, sprawling. It makes sudden swerves and decidedly unexpected decisions, keeping the reader invested with a sense of ease. Not to pigeonhole it, but this is a novel for nerds; references abound and comparisons to famous characters are plentiful, but not in a lazy way. Any writer can say "She's like a composite Wonder Woman and Sailor Moon", but Bergen twists it. He writes it deftly, mixing in little touches where they work but never letting it get out of hand. The characters feel less like pastiches of established characters and become their own people. If only the dialogue could keep up.

When I say I'm disappointed by the dialogue, I want to stress my meaning – Bergen’s grasp on the mundane and fantastical, his way of explaining the world around his characters, is simply marvelous. It's inventive, constantly funny, and full of the kind of strong imagery you only ever see in the best novels. I'm so impressed by his writing style that when it gets to the dialogue and it's average, I'm a little let down.

Deliberately slow and creatively inspired, the novel may take a few moments to sink in, but when it does, it does with gusto. Give it a go.

Advance Review: In stores today! SPOILER ALERT!


Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Iva n Reis
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

DC just got skullfucked…and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

After much hullabaloo, speculation that has ranged from the outrageous to the downright erroneous, and fan reactions that could only be silenced by the monumental news of #BatBen, Trinity War ends.

I dug The Trinity War a lot, but I’m also a self-professed DC fangeezer. To show my fervor isn’t completely deaf to reality, though, I hear the arguments and I can’t say I disagree. However, it’s all about perspective. This is a buildup to something else (namely FOREVER EVIL), but I say that’s comics, folks--everything should be a buildup to something else. I hear the accusations about false promises, but again, comics should be a surprise - and when did anyone swear on a bible to work at a comic company? Finally, I totally understand the rage against the New 52 characters being different than they were before, but here is where old timers and those accepting of the New 52 can come together in gleeful harmony, because these young upstarts are about to get bitch slapped with some old-school alternate Earth awesome.

That’s right: Pandora’s Box…skull…was more likely developed by Jerry O’ Connell than God; it’s a transport device that brings forward the Crime Syndicate of Earth 3…and we all shat our pants.

This is a great choice to be the next morsel thrown to us alternate reality fans. As much as I would have loved for all 52 earths to have been revealed in form and function when the Monitors wept at the end of FINAL CRISIS, I must admit this slow reveal satiates my all-too-male thirst for the hunt and, frankly, the tease. Thus far, the multiverse inductions have been stellar, from Earth One’s heft to the blink and you’ll miss it appearance of Earth 23 in ACTION. Every story has felt special because we simply never know when and how the next will appear.

This series, and particularly this issue, also helped quell a bit of my rage at the first arc in JUSTICE LEAGUE. I was not a fan of Volume One; the whole thing lacked purpose in my opinion—except, that is, on EARTH 2, where all the big guns died in a blaze of glory. Earth Prime’s League, though, seemed to tussle with a few mother boxes and had Darkseid yell at them for one panel before all was right again with the world. As it turns out, there was a story behind that story. Whether it’s true or ret-conned, I don’t care. It fills in gaps I was looking for in the eternal question of “why?”

All of these behind the scenes machinations are relayed to our dumbfounded heroes by the mystery man who orchestrated the war and much of the wrongdoing since September 2011 - Earth 3’s very Joker-like Alfred Pennyworth. This badass who has sent all of Earth’s heroes chasing around the globe and beating the piss out of one another is just a minion on the opposite and far more badass Earth 3. The story ends with Pandora’s Skull getting cracked open wide by ol’ Alfie so he can bring forth his masters of Ultraman, Superwoman, Owl Man and Johnny Q.

Johns also throws in a double…make that triple agent, who is the cause of Superman’s sickies in this series. Nope, Supes’ ailments have nothing to do with the box…skull.

Forgive the run on sentences in this review, but I didn’t want a week to go by before congratulating DC on a job well done. Trinity War is pure comic booking in any reality.


Writer: Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley
Art: T-Rex Jones
Publisher: Image Comics
Reviewer: The Dean

After a bit of a hiatus, HOAX HUNTERS is on its way back to the stands in just a couple of weeks with issue #10. I was surprised by the first collection of this series because I was pretty convinced that while lampooning paranormal investigators might make for an entertaining read, such a premise could never sustain an ongoing title that would keep readers coming back for more. What I wasn’t expecting was a fully realized team of interesting characters who are so much more than just a parody of a television trend . With HOAX HUNTERS #10, creators Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley begin a new arc that looks to be every bit as weird and imaginative as the last two, but new artist Tristan “T-Rex” Jones brings the title a much more prominent horror vibe which, in my opinion, is always a good thing.

So let’s start with T-Rex Jones. There are countless artists out there who can draw cool, but drawing scary is a completely different talent that far fewer artists possess. Jones definitely brings the scary to HOAX HUNTERS, and the new look is a great example of how significant style can be in comic storytelling. Imagine Art Baltazar on NEONOMICON. Totally different story, right? Well, luckily this pairing is far less absurd, and instead invites readers to consider the ongoing tale of HOAX HUNTERS and its characters in a different, but just as flattering light. The last nine issues had a lighter and more cartoonish look to them that made for a pretty typical superhero reading experience, whereas the darker and more nuanced look from Jones creates a slower, more deliberate pacing that when coupled with Moreci and Seeley’s story make this the creepiest the Hoax Hunters have been so far.

It’s hard to say if I prefer this look for HOAX HUNTERS just yet, but it’s certainly a welcome aspect change if nothing else, and credit should be given to the writers who’ve made these characters and their story so rich in only ten issues that an artist change would so significantly alter our perception of them. My favorite thing about HOAX HUNTERS has been how carefully character developments have been woven into the adventures. We’ve learned a lot about each team member so far, but the Regan-centric HOAX HUNTERS #10 takes a more focused look at a character than we’ve probably seen before. In many ways it reads like a bit of an origin tale for Regan as we see a glimpse of her less than idyllic youth in the prologue, before she then embarks on what will no doubt be a journey of self-discovery and demon hunting with Donovan (who looks creepier than ever now thanks to T-Rex). It’s a perfect story for newcomers to jump aboard with, but for those of us who’ve tagged along from the beginning, the prospective growth of character and the HOAX HUNTERS world in general make this issue both a great opening, and a tremendous tease.

So fans can rejoice that the series is back, and arguably better than ever, while those who’ve never given this title a chance have a great opportunity to jump aboard. Jack, Ken, Regan, and Murder (an astronaut suit full of crows…you should definitely read this series for Murder if for no other reason) are quickly becoming one of my favorite teams in all of comics, and HOAX HUNTERS #10 is a perfect example of why.


Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Chriscross
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Reviewer: Optimous Douche

Valiant revels in the unexpected. Every time I think they will zig they instead zag into the most wonderful of places. BLOODSHOT #0 is a perfect example of this defying expectations.

Unless this is your first trip to the longbox, we are all well aware of the typical zero issue cadence: hero has personal turmoil, hero has a life changing event, hero gets fucked up by some madman or cosmic event, hero becomes hero (except on the show HEROES, when Hiro became a hero). It’s a rinse/wash/repeat cycle of unoriginal origination that makes us wonder how many times can the human body be fucked with to produce wildly different results each time.

Instead of inundating us with the man Bloodshot was before he became Project Rising Spirit’s most loved and then hated albino mercenary, we instead learn why he became the only PRS agent to leave the reservation. This is done through a very clever device known as original storytelling.

By now anyone who likes great comics knows that Bloodshot can heal, change appearance and basically kick ass because of nanite machines coursing through his veins. In the original Valiant universe this was also the case, but Valiant 2.0 decided to take the concept a step further into awesome by making the nanites sentient. A change was needed, since in the 1.0 world Bloodshot was merely in place to explain how RAI’s blood of heroes came to be. Now, there’s a ghost in the machine that has literally served as Bloodshot’s friend and confidant since Issue One.

Why do the nanites manifest as a scared little boy? Well, that’s not exactly explained here, but one can infer. Let me take a step back first, though. Bloodshot really isn’t in this issue until the end. The whole story is told from the POV of a scientist who has been sent in to program Bloodshot with a conscience. Apparently PRS has been at this Bloodshot thing for a while now; the 50’s version was a mechanical monstrosity. The 60’s and 70’s brought the shrinking of machinery; only problem was those Bloodshots were awash in moral turpitude, blasting anything and everything in the path of their mission. While PRS wants to get the job done, even they get squeamish at all the dead children and innocents left in Bloodshot’s wake.

After several botched attempts, the only way our stalwart scientist can think to make Bloodshot human is to give him a soul, so he switches the nanites from send to receive and has them enter the body of a man about to die to capture those elusive 21 grams (which are most likely air just escaping the body, but I like this interpretation better) of soul butter.

The mission is a success…well, sorta. Again, people that like good comics know that Bloodshot has been grappling with this “robo-soul” since issue one. I’m unclear on whether this is why he has a whole jumble of memories in his head, but I don’t expect Valiant to leave us hanging for long after opening this can of soul spam.

BLOODSHOT #0 is another great issue, and a great place for new fans to jump onboard. With HARBINGER WARS behind us and UNITY on the horizon, if you’ve been thinking about giving Valiant a spin do it today before you get left behind again.

Advance Review: In stores today!


Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Frank Cho, Stuart Immonen, Wayne Von Grawbadger
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Reviewer: Ambush Bug

Much like the FF’s Ben Grimm, time travel stories often make my brain itch. All of these rules we base on theories of set to hypotheses coming from made up shit. So many factors in play when future selves meet past selves—will it make space and time fold into itself or just give us a bad hangover? Realistically speaking, we most likely will never know in our lifetimes. Then again, we’re talking comics where realistically speaking is often a very foreign concept.

That is, unless you’re talking about a comic written by Brian Michael Bendis who excels in writing stories rooted mostly in reality. Sure, in the stories he’s written for Marvel there are fantastical elements, but while the writer has faults, one of his strengths is that be brings the heft of reality to whatever it is he’s writing. While reading, you can almost hear the words play out as if they were a movie playing on the screen in front of you. It’s the reason why a lot of folks like the writer, but also the reason he receives criticisms stating that often he is so much in love with witty back and forthings that he forgets major elements of story like, say, good endings to his stories.

While I can’t speak for the ending of BATTLE OF THE ATOM, the latest Bendis helmed X-over, I can say that it starts out strong. And while I often find myself bored with so much time in his team books focusing on the downtime between battles, I will say that this issue is not one of those in between actions issues. In this issue, we flit to the future as Illyana peeks forward seeing what the future of the X-Men look like, then venture to the here and know (which is also intersecting with the past because the original X-Men have been teleported from the past to the present by Hank McCoy) where Professor Kitty Pryde and her original X-Men set out to do some recon on a new mutant who shows up with a bang in Arizona.

Now if that last paragraph had you scratching your cerebellum, you’re not the only one, but Bendis does a surprisingly good job of keeping things grounded in this first issue. Most importantly, he never gets to caught up in the clever Mamet-speak or loses track of the story itself, instead using he lines to make the story chug forward at a rapid pace and feel like you not only have read some clever wordplay, but have also seen some action to boot. It’s this type of energy I saw in the initial issues of the Bendis’ AVENGERS run and a level I only hope will sustain a little longer than it did with the Avengers which ended with a queef rather than a bang.

The art is fantastic with Frank Cho and Stuart Immonen (with Wade Von Grawbadger) making this easily one of the most gorgeous X-Books I’ve seen in ages. I do have to point out that this new mutant introduced is less than inspired in that she looks like DC’s VooDoo with a star tattooed on her face. That said, the designs of the future X-Men, especially Deadpool, Iceman and Beast, are very cool.

Not being a regular X-Reader, it takes a lot to impress and spark interest in me. X-MEN: BATTLE OF THE ATOM did in that it feels tightly plotted and may really cause some cool shake ups in the X-status quo. If it can retain that focus and not fart out in the end like a lot of Bendis-helmed events, this could be the series that gets me back to giving a fig about the X-Universe.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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